It was a season that saw Oklahoma (18-14, 8-10 Big 12) go on a rollercoaster ride of twists and turns, climbs and falls, and eventually ended in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
The final game was a microcosm of the Sooners’ season.
Trae Young started the game off with a fadeaway 3-pointer from the top of the key, and hit nothing but net. The freshman started out 4-of-4 (2-of-2 from three) from the field, looking well on his way to returning to his Dec. self in the Big Dance.
Oklahoma pushed their lead to two possessions at 29-25 with 4:44 to go in the first half after a Jamuni McNeace dunk, and eventually got up by eight at 35-27 with just under 2:30 to go in the half. It was the first time the Sooners had firm control of a game away from Norman, Okla. since January.
In the second half, Christian James hit his first and only three of the game in the Sooner’s first possession. The junior fouled out in overtime, finishing his final game of the season with five points on 2-of-7 shooting from the field, including 1-of-3 shooting from deep and five rebounds.
Oklahoma went up 42-35 early in the second half … and then Rhode Island went on a 3-point barrage.
The Rams hit back-to-back-to-back 3s right after, and tied the game at 44. Oklahoma pushed their lead back up to four at 50-46, and then Dan Hurley’s team went on a 9-0 run thanks to a quick layup, a three, and then hitting another 3-pointer after a Trae Young turnover in the backcourt. It was a situation the Sooners had been in all year, but instead of folding, the young Oklahoma team responded thanks to their Wayman Tisdale Award winner.
Trae Young scored 14 of the Sooners’ last 17 points, including the final two free throws that sent the game to overtime. The freshman ended his first year in college basketball with 28 points, seven assists, and five rebounds.
Overtime treated Oklahoma well for the first three minutes. They maintained a possession lead despite playing sloppy basketball and taking bad shots. Then, with 1:54 left in the game, Rhode Island hit a three to take a 74-72 lead, and the 7-seeded Rams did not look back.
Jamuni McNeace had another big game despite the loss with his double-double on 14 points and 10 rebounds. He effected the shots in the paint whether he blocked (2) them or not to add with his other production, showing his constant progression from game one to game 32.
The game was the epitome of Trae Young and the Sooners’ season. They were in control, and then they were not. Oklahoma bounced back, but then opened a door for Rhode Island to walk through and win 83-78 to send the Sooners home in, potentially, Trae Young’s last game.